October 29, 2008

Sometimes you fear
Sometimes you bleed
Sometimes you live
Sometimes you need

Record release show for the cut ups!, flyer by P.J. Brownlee

-- by Klipschutz

The market looks honor bright for Future futures.
Past futures may be all dressed up from Saks

and Neiman-Marcus, you betcha, but still the Past
is over, dead as a wolf shot from on high, doncha know?

So buy into the Future IPO, one share, one vote,
and see your country’s value rise and shine.

-October 29, 2008

The Wisdom of the Fathers (a fount poem)
-- by Klipschutz

His first agent advised him
that if he wanted to get published,
he would have to "get rid of
that Indian stuff."

(source: obituary of Tony Hillerman)

-- by Klipschutz

Before Joe there were others. John McCain is old enough to remember. So am I, goddammit.

Meet G. Gordon Liddy and E. Howard Hunt the Plumbers – back then, tradesmen, like professors, were more formal; not only did they not go by their Christian names, they had panache: an opening initial! These two worked together cleaning up a psychiatrist’s office (one of his patients was leaking), then went on to a big job, using a crew, when during an emergency in May 1972 they were told to enter, keys or no, a rented space on the sixth floor at 2600 Virginia Ave., part of the sprawling Watergate complex a stone’s throw from the White House.

Joe What’s His Name may be John’s handyman, but G. Gordon will always be our First Plumber.

Gross Misinterpretation Of The Real Thing
-- by Sarah Bartlett

I was pushing
my cart through
the checkout line
when a tall girl
in cowboy boots
She looked famous
so I said:
Great show
last night.
She smiled,
and I held out
my receipt.
She asked me
how to spell
and signed her
name across
my dry goods.

-- back after Obama is elected.

October 28, 2008

And the fire in the air, it felt frozen.
'Til a man come to speak
And he said in one week
That number eleven was closin'

Seth Adelsberger, Untitled, 2005

* A Choice and an Echo. excerpt:

"It seems to have taken forever (the seasons have changed, and changed and changed again), but this long presidential campaign is finally coming to an end. In January, with snow blanketing the trail in Iowa and New Hampshire, I wrote of the Barack Obama phenomenon: 'Shake hands with tomorrow. It’s here.'

"I didn’t mean that Senator Obama would win the election. He still seemed like a long shot to me. But it was clear that the message, style and strategy of his campaign pointed to a new direction for American politics, and that a new generation of voters — younger, smarter, more diverse, more open-minded — was anxious to follow his lead.

"I remember talking with a voter named Debra Gable, who had driven from central Vermont to attend an Obama rally in Derry, N.H. 'I dislike politics,' she told me, 'because we focus on our differences even though we have so many more commonalities. That’s what I think I’m hearing from Obama, so I want to see how he is in person.'

"Ms. Gable had not made up her mind, and the other candidate she was seriously considering — in a Republican field that was still wide open — was John McCain.

"This election is hardly over, despite the impulse of the pundits to write the McCain campaign’s obituary. But Senator McCain has diminished his chances of winning the presidency in many ways, the most important of which was his failure to grasp the most significant new trend in American politics.

"With the country facing enormous problems (even before the meltdown of the credit and financial markets in recent months), the voters wanted more substance from their candidates. They wanted a greater sense of maturity and a more civil approach to campaigning. They were tired of the politics of personal destruction and the playbook that counseled 'attack, attack, attack'”

"Senator Obama was perfectly suited to this new approach. He told the crowd that trekked through the cold and snow to hear his victory speech at the Iowa caucuses:
You said the time has come to move beyond the bitterness and pettiness and anger that’s consumed Washington. To end the political strategy that’s been all about division, and instead make it about addition. To build a coalition for change that stretches through red states and blue states.
John McCain didn’t get it. He seemed as baffled by the new politics as an Al Jolson aficionado trying to make sense of the Beatles.

"He answered the desire for a higher tone in politics with ads that likened Senator Obama to Britney Spears and Paris Hilton and with attacks that questioned Mr. Obama’s patriotism, blamed him for high gasoline prices and all-but-accused him of being a socialist.

"Mr. Obama, said Mr. McCain, would convert the Internal Revenue Service into 'a giant welfare agency.'
"The heyday of Lee Atwater and Karl Rove is over. Yet Senator McCain handed the reins of his campaign to Rove’s worshipful acolytes. With the nation in a high state of anxiety over the conflagration in the credit and financial markets, Senator McCain traveled the country ranting Rovelike about Bill Ayers, trying to instill a bogus belief that the onetime ’60s radical and Senator Obama were good buddies and perhaps involved in some nefarious doings together. Senator Obama was about 8 years old when Mr. Ayers was engaged in his nefarious doings.

"It was the classic fear card that the Republicans have played to such brilliant effect for years. But times have changed. (Lately Senator McCain has been obsessively invoking the name of 'Joe the Plumber' at his campaign appearances, as if that might be the phrase that finally sways the electorate in a way that the Bill Ayers mantra did not.)
"Mr. McCain must never have noticed that the public turned overwhelmingly against the Bush administration because of its repeatedly demonstrated incompetence. Now here is Senator McCain, in the midst of a national crisis, with a running mate who is demonstrably incompetent to serve the nation as its president.

"Ms. Palin is a walking affront to the many Republican women (not to mention women in general) who are, in fact, qualified to hold the highest office in the land.

"John McCain could have traveled a higher road. He chose not to. He bet instead on one last gasping triumph of the politics of the past."

-- related: check out these fantastic photos of Obama by Callie Shell.

* The longest running Bob Dylan magazine still in print: Isis Magazine.

* PostRock: Phrases You Will Not See in the Post's Magnetic Fields show review:

"Stephin Merritt is a natural frontman"

"Merritt seemed to be having a great time up on stage"

"Merritt graciously soaked up the applause after each song"

"Merritt had no problem opening a plastic wrapper containing a lozenge, and didn't have to give it to cellist Sam Davol to open for him, on two separate occasions"

"Merritt took just one brief moment to harass the audience about cell phones, cameras or other assorted electronic devices"

* "At least two thirds of our miseries spring from human stupidity, human malice and those great motivators and justifiers of malice and stupidity, idealism, dogmatism and proselytizing zeal on behalf of religious or political idols." -- Aldous Huxley

"Merritt smiled"

October 27, 2008

Drinks flow
People forget
Big wheel spins
The hair thins, people forget
The news slows..., people forget
The shares crash, hopes are dashed, people forget
They forget they're hiding

Jean Cocteau, Orphée (Orpheus), 1960

* McCain camp hits back at Sarah Palin. From CNN:

"McCain sources say Palin has gone off-message several times, and they privately wonder whether the incidents were deliberate. They cited an instance in which she labeled robocalls -- recorded messages often used to attack a candidate's opponent -- 'irritating' even as the campaign defended their use. Also, they pointed to her telling reporters she disagreed with the campaign's decision to pull out of Michigan.

"A second McCain source says she appears to be looking out for herself more than the McCain campaign.

"'She is a diva. She takes no advice from anyone,' said this McCain adviser. 'She does not have any relationships of trust with any of us, her family or anyone else.'"

* 500 Magazine with Frank Zappa on the cover (click to see better).

* Short piece by David Berman on shopping for glasses near the local mall. Originally published in The Purple Journal, Summer 2007.

* In DC? Tonight The Plums at Galaxy Hut. 9pm

* "Computers are useless. They can only give you answers." -- Pablo Picasso

October 24, 2008

I've still got dreams that keep me from worrying about my age

Frank Stella, Untitled, 1964

--by Ted Berrigan

is when you walk around a corner
& I see you see me across Second Avenue
You're dressed in indentifiable white
over your jeans & I'm wearing Navy --
Jacob Riis is beams of sunlight as
I cross against the light & we inter-
cept at the Indian Candy Store. The
Family has gone off to Parkersburg, W. Virginia
The Chrysler Building is making the Empire State
stand tall & friendly it leans your way
There's appointments for everybody
They don't have to be kept, either.

-- by Beth Woodcome

Lean in like babies. Lean in like paranoids. Our eyes go to the left,
and quickly to the right. Can you hear it? Can you tell me when it’ll happen?

The sound of someone plotting. A deep breath.
All those fatigues. Those boys.

Let me tell you something. Come closer so my lips. So my lips.
Last I checked you should run.

American football (A Meditation on the Gulf War)
-- by harold pinter

Hallelullah! It works.
We blew the shit out of them. We blew the shit right back up their own ass
And out their fucking ears.
It works. We blew the shit out of them. They suffocated in their own shit!
Hallelullah. Praise the Lord for all good things. We blew them into fucking shit.
They are eating it. Praise the Lord for all good things.
We blew their balls into shards of dust,
Into shards of fucking dust. We did it.
Now I want you to come over here and kiss me on the mouth.

October 23, 2008

waking's so ugly
sleep is so pure

Niocolai Karadjov, Sleeping Beauty, 2007

* No Chemistry, No Trust, Possibly No Chance:

"Commenting on a new joint interview with John McCain and Sarah Palin, NBC News Political Director Chuck Todd described the Republican ticket as lacking cohesion, chemistry, and (he hinted) trust.

"'There was a tenseness,' Todd told MSNBC's Chris Matthews. 'I couldn't see chemistry between John McCain and Sarah Palin. I felt as if we grabbed two people and said 'here, sit next to each other, we are going to conduct an interview.' They are not comfortable with each other yet.'

"Todd, who was remarking on the interview conducted by NBC's Brian Williams (he was in the room), speculated that the candidates had come to the realization that 'they are losing' the campaign, and guessed that McCain may have begun to hold his vice presidential choice responsible for his dwindling White House chances.

"'When you see the two of them together, the chemistry is just not there. You do wonder, is John McCain starting to blame her for things? Blaming himself? Is she blaming him?' asked the highly regarded NBC newsman. 'And maybe they don't feel they can win right now, so they are missing that intensity. That was the thing that struck me more than anything. You almost wonder why they wanted the two of them sitting next to each other.'

"The interview, Williams said, would air over the course of three days. And some actual news - beyond the body language - was drawn from the proceedings: Palin, apparently to her own staff's surprise, promised to release her medical records.

"'Both of these candidates are on the verge of pulling a Bullworth,' said Todd, referencing the late '90s political classic about a pol who stopped spinning. 'We are at a critical juncture inside this campaign for the McCain folks and that is who is trusting who? You have got people worrying about their reputations. Now you are wondering do the candidates trust the staff? Does the staff trust the candidates? This is a dangerous time in a campaign that is behind. They desperately need some good news because you do wonder if cohesion is disappearing on the inside.'"

* In NYC?

-- Tomorrow evening at Union Pool (484 Union Ave. Brooklyn) The Caribbean perform at the Hometapes CMJ showcase. 8pm

-- Next weekend (October 24 and 25) will see the debut of 13 Most Beautiful…Songs for Andy Warhol's Screen Tests, a project jointly commissioned by the Andy Warhol Museum and Pittsburgh Cultural Trust for the Pittsburgh International Festival of Firsts 2008. Dean and Britta have composed music (and arranged some covers too) for a selection (13) of Warhol's four-minute, silent film portraits, the Screen Tests, which will take the form of a multimedia performance featuring large scale video projection of the Screen Tests above the musicians performing live on stage.

Andy Warhol's Screen Tests, which number approximately 500, are revealing portraits of hundreds of different individuals, shot between 1964 and 1966. The subjects—both famous and anonymous— were visitors to his studio, the Factory. They were asked to pose, lit with a strong keylight, and filmed by Warhol with his stationary 16mm Bolex camera on silent, black and white, 100-foot rolls of film. Each screen test lasted only as long as the roll of film. The resulting 2¾ minute films were projected in slow motion so that each lasted four minutes.

* "In 1969 I gave up women and alcohol and it was the worst 20 minutes of my life." -- George Best

October 22, 2008

Look through time and find your rhyme

Don Van Vliet, Golden Birdies, 1988

Papa November
-- by Crystal Curry

The virgins guard
the emergency glass. Opal
is dying
in her basement house. The numbers station
croons to the spies: papa november,
papa november

Opal: "alea
iacta est." The fate
of the empire rests on this
. Gardenia,
Delphinium, Gentian, Mum
save their hula
for some

Morning at the Elizabeth Arch
-- by Joe Weil

The winos rise as beautiful as deer.
Look how they stagger from their sleep
as if the morning were a river
against which they contend.

This is not a sentiment
filled with the disdain
of human pity.
They turn in the mind,
they turn
beyond the human order.

One scratches his head and yawns.
Another rakes a hand
through slick mats of thinning hair.
They blink and the street litter moves
its slow, liturgical way.
A third falls back
bracing himself on an arm.

At river’s edge, the deer stand poised.
One breaks the spell of his reflection with a hoof
and, struggling, begins to cross.

Japanese Pop Music Concert
-- by Richard Brautigan

Dont ever ever forget
the flowers
that were rejected, made
fools of.

A very shy girl gives the
budding boy pop star a bouquet
of beautiful

between songs. What courage
it took for her to walk up to
the stage and hand him the flowers.

He puts them garbage-like down
on the floor. They lie there.
She returns to her seat and watches
her flowers lying there.
Then she cant take it any longer.

She flees.
She is gone
but the music
plays on.

I promise.
You promise, too

October 21, 2008

Its a cold, hard, world out there
these are cold hard times

Tim Rollins, Red Leaf 2, 2008

* From Harper's November 2008:

-- Number of marijuana plants found under cultivation inside Miami's Mall of the Americas in August: 360

-- Average number of new federal crimes that Congress creates each year: 56

-- Estimated value of U.S. economic growth lost due to the global credit crisis: $2,000,000,000,000

-- Average number of hours per week that an American and a Chinese person, respectively, spend shopping: 4, 10

* Lee Hazlewood performs Cold, Hard Times, on the Rolf Harris Show in 1971.

* "Art is art. Everything else is everything else." - Ad Reinhardt

October 20, 2008

Can you bite the bullet? Can you see the enemy?
Can you point the finger? Can you prove your loyalty?

Deedra Ludwig, Veins of Gold, 2007

* Clusterfuck Nation. excerpt:

"It's fascinating to read the commentators in mainstream journals like The Financial Times and The Wall Street Journal all strenuously pretending that 'the worst is over' (maybe... we hope... fingers crossed... hail Mary full of grace... et cetera). The cluelessness would be funny if it didn't involve a world-changing catastrophe. All nations that have reached the fork-and-spoon level of civilization are now engineering a vast network of cyber-cables that lead directly from their central bank computers to the Death Star that is hovering above world financial affairs like a giant cosmic vacuum cleaner, sucking up dollars, euros, zlotys, forints, krona, what-have-you. As fast as the keystrokes create currency-pixels, the little electron-denominated units of exchange are sucked out of the terrestrial economies into the black hole of money death. That's what the $700-billion bail-out (excuse me, "rescue plan") and all its associated ventures are about.

"To switch metaphors, let's say that we are witnessing the two stages of a tsunami. The current disappearance of wealth in the form of debts repudiated, bets welshed on, contracts canceled, and Lehman Brothers-style sob stories played out is like the withdrawal of the sea. The poor curious little monkey-humans stand on the beach transfixed by the strangeness of the event as the water recedes and the sea floor is exposed and all kinds of exotic creatures are seen thrashing in the mud, while the skeletons of historic wrecks are exposed to view, and a great stench of organic decay wafts toward the strand. Then comes the second stage, the tidal wave itself -- which in this case will be horrific monetary inflation -- roaring back over the mud flats toward the land mass, crashing over the beach, and ripping apart all the hotels and houses and infrastructure there while it drowns the poor curious monkey-humans who were too enthralled by the weird spectacle to make for higher ground. The killer tidal wave washes away all the things they have labored to build for decades, all their poignant little effects and chattels, and the survivors are left keening amidst the wreckage as the sea once again returns to normal in its eternal cradle.
"Apart from orderly prosecutions (which can certainly turn harsh and cruel), there is the possibility of sociopolitical upheaval -- revolution, violence, civil war, war between nations, the whole menu of monkey-human mischief that afflicts mankind. We are not necessarily immune to it here in the USA, despite our cherished notion of exceptionalism, which would have us inoculated against all the common vicissitudes of history.
"The energy story and its hand-maiden, the climate change situation, are both lurking out there beyond the immediate spectacle of the financial fiasco. Both these things imply pretty strongly that the economic relations currently unraveling will not be rebuilt -- not the way they were before, or even close to it. The best outcome will be societies that can practice small-scale 'process-intensive' organic agriculture and equally small-scale process-intensive modes of manufacture in the context of very local sociopolitical networks. An accompanying hope is that we can remain civilized in the process. Personally, while I recognize the appeal (to others, not me) of the 'singularity' narrative, which has the human race making a sudden evolutionary leap into some kind of cyborg-nirvana, I regard it as an utter bullshit fantasy that has zero chance of occurring, given our stark predicament.
"But returning to the short term, or 'the present,' shall we say, there is the matter of how the US gets through the election and then the first months of a new government, even while the larger fiasco continues. I'm voting for Mr. Obama. While I believe he will make a much better president than the addled old mad dog Mr. McCain has become, I feel sorry for anyone who is placed nominally 'in charge' of things this coming year. The best a President Obama can do is offer some reassurance to a public that is totally unprepared for the convulsion now upon us. Mr. Obama will certainly not have 'money' to 'spend' on any of the promised social support programs that have been endlessly debated. But he could clearly articulate the reality we're facing, and ask not necessarily for 'sacrifice,' as the common plea goes, but for something more and better: for bravery and resolute spirit, for intelligence and resilience, for kindness and generosity -- among a people long unused to consorting with the better angels of their nature. He's already begun to set the example by appearing in public with his sleeves rolled up. The change that has been in the air all year -- that Mr. Obama has talked so much about -- is coming in a bigger dose than anyone expected. I hope we're ready to get with the program."

* House Republican resurrects "Joe McCarthy's Ghost" [by the minutemen]...

* Prince of Petworth identifies urban marijuana plants.

* Check out Criggo.

* "To be able to fill leisure intelligently is the last product of civilization, and at present very few people have reached this level." -- Bertrand Russell

October 17, 2008

They say there's gold from the hills
Hidden in the slums

David Graham, Waterloo Road, Stockton, 2003

The Painter
-- by John Ashbery

Sitting between the sea and the buildings
He enjoyed painting the sea’s portrait.
But just as children imagine a prayer
Is merely silence, he expected his subject
To rush up the sand, and, seizing a brush,
Plaster its own portrait on the canvas.

So there was never any paint on his canvas
Until the people who lived in the buildings
Put him to work: “Try using the brush
As a means to an end. Select, for a portrait,
Something less angry and large, and more subject
To a painter’s moods, or, perhaps, to a prayer.”

How could he explain to them his prayer
That nature, not art, might usurp the canvas?
He chose his wife for a new subject,
Making her vast, like ruined buildings,
As if, forgetting itself, the portrait
Had expressed itself without a brush.

Slightly encouraged, he dipped his brush
In the sea, murmuring a heartfelt prayer:
“My soul, when I paint this next portrait
Let it be you who wrecks the canvas.”
The news spread like wildfire through the buildings:
He had gone back to the sea for his subject.

Imagine a painter crucified by his subject!
Too exhausted even to lift his brush,
He provoked some artists leaning from the buildings
To malicious mirth: “We haven’t a prayer
Now, of putting ourselves on canvas,
Or getting the sea to sit for a portrait!”

Others declared it a self-portrait.
Finally all indications of a subject
Began to fade, leaving the canvas
Perfectly white. He put down the brush.
At once a howl, that was also a prayer,
Arose from the overcrowded buildings.

They tossed him, the portrait, from the tallest of the buildings;
And the sea devoured the canvas and the brush
As though his subject had decided to remain a prayer.

The Right Wing Is Falling Off
(Bet You Wish You Took The Train)
-- by Klipschutz

Nancy broke her pelvis

Dick’s irregular again

And Colin will weigh in

But not today.

Hip-Hop Ghazal
-- by Patricia Smith

Gotta love us brown girls, munching on fat, swinging blue hips,
decked out in shells and splashes, Lawdie, bringing them woo hips.

As the jukebox teases, watch my sistas throat the heartbreak,
inhaling bassline, cracking backbone and singing thru hips.

Like something boneless, we glide silent, seeping 'tween floorboards,
wrapping around the hims, and ooh wee, clinging like glue hips.

Engines grinding, rotating, smokin', gotta pull back some.
Natural minds are lost at the mere sight of ringing true hips.

Gotta love us girls, just struttin' down Manhattan streets
killing the menfolk with a dose of that stinging view. Hips.

Crying 'bout getting old—Patricia, you need to get up off
what God gave you. Say a prayer and start slinging. Cue hips.

October 16, 2008

Some people add and some subtract
I love an expert I hate a hack

Lorraine Glessner, and it Will not release Its Grip

* Paper Magazine talks with various artists about their obsessions.

* Attn Customer Service:

"Early in 2007, just as her husband launched his presidential bid, Cindy McCain sought to resolve an old problem - the lack of cellphone coverage on her remote 15-acre ranch near Sedona, Ariz., nestled deep in a tree-lined canyon called Hidden Valley.

"Over the past year, she offered land for a permanent cell tower, and Verizon Wireless embarked on an expensive public process to meet her needs, hiring contractors and seeking county land-use permits.

"Verizon ultimately abandoned its effort to install a permanent tower in August. Company spokesman Jeffrey Nelson said the project would be 'an inappropriate way' to build its network. 'It doesn't make business sense for us to do that,' he added.

"Instead, Verizon delivered a portable tower known as a 'cell site on wheels' - free of charge - to the McCain property in June, after the Secret Service began inquiring about improving coverage in the area. Such devices are used for providing temporary capacity where coverage is lacking or has been knocked out, in circumstances ranging from the Super Bowl to hurricanes."
"Ethics lawyers said Cindy McCain's dealings with the wireless companies stand out because her husband is a senior member of the Senate commerce committee, which oversees the Federal Communications Commission and the telecommunications industry. He has been a leading advocate for industry-backed legislation, fighting regulations and taxes on telecommunication services.

"Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and his campaign have close ties to Verizon and AT&T. Five campaign officials, including manager Rick Davis, have worked as lobbyists for Verizon. Former McCain staff member Robert Fisher is an in-house lobbyist for Verizon and is volunteering for the campaign. Fisher, Verizon chief executive Ivan G. Seidenberg and company lobbyists have raised more than $1.3 million for McCain's presidential effort, and Verizon employees are among the top 20 corporate donors over McCain's political career, giving his campaigns more than $155,000.

"McCain's Senate chief of staff Mark Buse, senior strategist Charles R. Black Jr. and several other campaign staff members have registered as AT&T lobbyists in the past. AT&T Executive Vice President Timothy McKone and AT&T lobbyists have raised more than $2.3 million for McCain. AT&T employees have donated more than $325,000 to the Republican's campaigns, putting the company in the No. 3 spot for career donations to McCain, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.

"'It raises the aura of special consideration for somebody because he is a member of the Senate,' said Stanley Brand, a former House counsel for Democrats and an ethics lawyer who represents politicians in both parties.
"Documents that The Washington Post obtained from Arizona's Yavapai County under state public records law show how Verizon hired contractors to put a tower on the property.(see letter) At that point, many counted McCain out of the race.

"On Sept. 18, 2007, a Mesa, Ariz., contractor working for Verizon surveyed the McCain property. Another contractor drafted blueprints (see document - note large file size) calling for moving a utility shed and installing a 40-foot tower with two antennas and a microwave dish, surrounded by a six-foot wooden fence.

"Construction costs would be $22,000, records show. Industry specialists said the figure probably only covers the tower and fence because the antennas, the dish and power source would run the cost into the six figures. On Dec. 4, Cindy McCain signed a letter (see document) authorizing Verizon Wireless to act on her behalf to seek county land-use permits."
"Three telecommunications specialists consulted by The Post said the proposed site covers so few users that it is unlikely to generate enough traffic to justify the investment. Robb Alarcon, an industry specialist who helps plan tower placement, said the proposed location appeared to be a "strategic build," free-of-charge coverage to high-priority customers. A former Verizon executive vice president, who asked not to be named because he worked for the company, agreed with Alarcon, saying, 'It was a VIP kind of thing.'"

* "Do not imagine that Art is something which is designed to give gentle uplift and self-confidence. Art is not a brassiere. At least, not in the English sense. But do not forget that brassiere is the French word for life-jacket." -- Julian Barnes

October 15, 2008

there are only moments

cara ober, there are only moments, 2008

The Old Liberators
-- by Robert Hedin

Of all the people in the mornings at the mall,
it's the old liberators I like best,
those veterans of the Bulge, Anzio, or Monte Cassino
I see lost in Automotive or back in Home Repair,
bored among the paints and power tools.
Or the really old ones, the ones who are going fast,
who keep dozing off in the little orchards
of shade under the distant skylights.
All around, from one bright rack to another,
their wives stride big as generals,
their handbags bulging like ripe fruit.
They are almost all gone now,
and with them they are taking the flak
and fire storms, the names of the old bombing runs.
Each day a little more of their memory goes out,
darkens the way a house darkens,
its rooms quietly filling with evening,
until nothing but the wind lifts the lace curtains,
the wind bearing through the empty rooms
the rich far off scent of gardens
where just now, this morning,
light is falling on the wild philodendrons.

After Work
-- by John Maloney

They're heading home with their lights on, dust and wood glue,
yellow dome lights on their metallic long beds: 250s, 2500s,
as much overtime as you want, deadline, dotted line, dazed
through the last few hours, dried primer on their knuckles,
sawdust calf-high on their jeans, scraped boots, the rough
plumbing and electric in, way ahead of the game except for
the check, such a clutter of cans and iced-tea bottles, napkins,
coffee cups, paper plates on the front seat floor with cords
and saws, tired above the eyes, back of the beyond, thirsty.
There's a parade of them through the two-lane highways,
proudest on their way home, the first turn out of the jobsite,
the first song with the belt off, pure breath of being alone
for now, for now the insight of a full and answerable man.
No one can take away the contentment of the first few miles
and they know they can't describe it, the black and purple sky.

Stray Instrument
-- by Claire Fields

The secretary has announced
over the intercom that
there is a stray French horn
in the building
and will you please
keep your eyes open
for it.

As the teacher resumes her
lecture, I wonder if
the instrument has escaped
from its black case, tough
as avocado skin,
and has joined a secret band
of stray instrument outcasts:
the ridiculed tuba,
the skittish viola,
the brooding bassoon.

Perhaps, in the winter months,
when sleepy-eyed heaters clang so
loudly from deep below the school
that the teacher must
perhaps the clanging is really
the forgotten triangle,
calling the stray band
to attention, saying in his thin voice
"Beethoven’s Fifth, everyone,
on three."

October 14, 2008

To whom can i speak today

Ben Piwowar, New Management

* Congratulations to Paul Krugman.

* April 1998 interview of Robert Creeley. excerpt:

J.M. Spalding: Do you remember, when you were still at the beginning of your affair with poetry, what poems gave you a magical feeling when you read them?

Robert Creeley: First were the poems that either were wild, melodramatic tales, like Alfred Noyes' "The Highwayman," or were simply fun, like James Whitcomb Riley's "Little Orphan Annie." In some real way I am leery of that emphasis "great poetry" because I haven't the least idea whether these poems were such, either then or now. I like Pound's sense, from "Agricola," something like "ut doceat, delectet et moveat"—that poetry affects us either by teaching, by delighting, or by moving us. Presumably, great poems may or may not do that, if the judgement which has so nominated them is only one of isolated interests. Perhaps it makes more sense to stay with Robert Graves' proposal, that one could tell a good poem by the same sense one used to qualify good fish.

J.M. Spalding: Who are some of the up-and-coming writers that interest you?

Robert Creeley: There are always far more than anyone such as myself can keep track of. The old are hardly the best judges for the young. "The old order changeth, yielding place to new." I remember Pound saying years ago that after 50 one can't keep one's eye on all the sprouting corn. After 70 it's hard enough even to see it.

I think quickly of two young writers who interest me and always have: Jennifer Moxley, Vincent Katz. Susan Howe (who I have to remember is not young!) interests me always. Alice Notley, Leslie Scalapino. To you they might seem already too settled. But some writers, as Robert Grenier, are never so "done" as that presumes. They are always at work, on the way. Writers as Duncan McNaughton still wait for a defining audience.

J.M. Spalding: Poets look for recognition and acceptance of their work, which is why they try to publish their work. What was your first experience with acceptance and recognition?

Robert Creeley: Is that why poets write, do you think, "for recognition and acceptance of their work?"

J.M. Spalding: I said, "why they try to publish...."

Robert Creeley: Williams says he'd rather go off and die like a sick dog than be a well-known literary person in America. A poll taken on the streets of Manhattan discovered that less than one percent could tell who Norman Mailer was. Poets write, I do believe, because they have to—it's something nothing else quite satisfies. One has to do it—compulsively. I remember Carl Rakosi saying before we were to teach at Naropa some years ago ( we were musing over just how to proceed): "Well, the last thing poets need is encouragement!" They'll do it come hell or high water. My own "acceptance and recognition" came from peers, as Olson, Duncan, Paul Blackburn, Denise Levertov, Cid Corman—and elders like Williams and Zukofsky. The company is what matters.
J.M. Spalding: Very often a poem is dead as it is being written, or, simply put, despite substance, the poem just isn't good. Every poet has a different theory as to why that is. What is your theory?

Robert Creeley: Williams puts it best in Paterson: "Because it's there to be written...." If one only wrote "good" poems, what a dreary world it would be. "Writing writing" is the point. It's a process, like they say, not a production line. I love the story of Neal Cassidy writing on the bus with Ken Kesey, simply tossing the pages out the window as he finished each one. "I wonder if it was any good," I can hear someone saying. Did you ever go swimming without a place you were necessarily swimming to—the dock, say, or the lighthouse, the moored boat, the drowning woman? Did you always swim well, enter the water cleanly, proceed with efficient strokes and a steady flutter kick? I wonder if this "good" poem business is finally some echo of trying to get mother to pay attention

* "The greatest masterpieces were once only pigments on a palette." - Henry S. Haskins

October 10, 2008

Were we ever inspired?
Just for a moment?
Or is this our life?
Slackness in the blackness

Daniel Richter, Ferbenlaare, 2005

The Mangrove House
-- by Sandra Beasley

In April I lined up my best figurines
and brought the hammer down repeatedly.
I made a pile of hands, a pile of eyes:
only the mouths escaped, lipping

quietly under the bed. In May
I built a house in the root of a mangrove
and slithered in on my elbows,
weaving the door shut behind me.

They thought I needed rescuing.
They dragged me out. They sluiced vinegar
through my veins. They tied magnets
to my wrists. The doctors pronounced me

Fit as a fiddle. Now, they string me up.
They wax me down. My mother tucks me
under her chin, and I sleep. My father
plucks every hollow, and I sing.

The Charm
-- by Robert Creeley

My children are, to me,
what is uncommon: they are dumb
and speak with signs. Their hands
are nervous, and fit more for
hysteria, than goodwill or long
winterside conversation.
Where fire is, they are quieter
and sit, comforted. They were born
by their mother in hopelessness.
But in them I had been, at first,
tongue. If they speak,
I have myself, and love them.

Cherry Tomatoes
-- by Sandra Beasley

Little bastards of vine.
Little demons by the pint.
Red eggs that never hatch,
just collapse and rot. When

my mom told me to gather
their grubby bodies
into my skirt, I'd cry. You
and your father
, she'd chide

the way, each time I kicked
and wailed against sailing,
my dad shook his head, said
You and your mother.

Now, a city girl, I ease one
loose from its siblings,
from its clear plastic coffin,
place it on my tongue.

Just to try. The smooth
surface resists, resists,
and erupts in my mouth:
seeds, juice, acid, blood

of a perfect household.
The way, when I finally
went sailing, my stomach
was rocked from inside

out. Little boat, big sea.
Handful of skinned sunsets.

October 9, 2008

I'm not too amused with humans

Ed Ruscha, Jelly, 1967

* New York Times. excerpt:

"In Tuesday night’s debate, Senator John McCain denounced Senator Barack Obama and his 'cronies' for receiving campaign money from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. It was odd to hear him denounce lobbyists, whom he once called 'birds of prey,' particularly for those two mortgage companies.

"By that standard, Mr. McCain is living in a virtual aviary with, among others, his campaign manager and his White House transition planner, bona fide heavyweights in the power game of lobbying and consulting.

"It was Mr. McCain who chose to make this a big deal. His campaign attack ads accusing Mr. Obama of questionable ties to Fannie and Freddie have backfired. It turns out that the Washington firm of Rick Davis, Mr. McCain’s campaign manager, was profiting handsomely from Freddie retainers until the government took over the mortgage-finance companies last month amid the credit crisis.

"Mr. McCain insisted that Mr. Davis had no involvement with his business for several years. But he appears to have been benefiting from the $15,000 a month that Freddie paid the firm from the end of 2005 through last August. Previously, Mr. Davis was paid nearly $2 million across five years in running a group set up by Fannie and Freddie officials to beat back stricter regulation.

"The good, the bad and the ugly of lobbying are well known, but it’s a stretch for a man with 25 years in Washington to demonize it. His brain trust is heavy with consultants and lobbyists. Other McCain aides with past ties to the lending companies are the strategist Charlie Black; Wayne Berman, deputy campaign finance chairman; and Mark Buse, chief of staff at Mr. McCain’s Senate office."
"The Obama campaign is hardly spotless, particularly as one of the main beneficiaries of donations from the two mortgage-finance companies. When it was disclosed that James Johnson, the former Fannie Mae chairman, had received preferential mortgage treatment, the Obama campaign had the sense to drop him as leader of the vice-presidential search team. Senator McCain shows no comparable savvy. In seeking to make lobbying an issue, Senator McCain has made one of hypocrisy."

* Buy the upcoming super reissue of Brighten the Corners early to receive a copy of the live album that has never been released.

* Pavement's Trigger Cut, from Coney Island High, 1991.

* "I hate flowers. I only paint them because they're cheaper than models and they don't move." -- Georgia O'Keefe

October 8, 2008

the wind worked overtime and
brought her scent overseas

Fernando Botero, Abu Ghraib 56, 2005

Bandini’s Disco Usufruct
-- by Dennis Mahagin

At the end of the world, every jukebox-- stuck
with only one selection left, so they punch it in, this boy
and girl, the very last lovers in an abandoned bowling
alley on Venice Boulevard.

A cherry-colored vinyl disc drops
in the stylus slot, and out comes an echo shot of chamber
strings and muted Strat—my God it’s Barry White!
--and he begins to sing:

"My darling I … can’t get enough of your love…"

Nothing amiss here, really, at the end
of the world, our boy and his girl show
no fear—in fact shortly they get busy
tossing a bright-blue Frisbee back and
forth across the abandoned bowling alley,
with strobe lights splashing on all the walls
like paint balls, and the mechanical Pin
Sweeper - Slash - Spotters in high gear,
chomping at the bit for those pins, retracting
and then attacking like prurient skeleton jaws
with freshly grinning dentition every fourteen
seconds, plus all the hand dryers going off
at once, heavy, heavy breath, and big black
bowling balls coughed from the Return Chutes
like lurid tongues… The boy grins, and spits
in his palm, then tosses the Frisbee—it arcs like a knuckleball
across ten lanes, buffeted on some mysterious pocket of convection;
he watches his girl skirt gutter ball troughs with long loping
deer strides and bunny hops, her eyes locked on the bright
blue prize, and when she hauls it in, she lets out
a little squeal, while Barry White cries:

"I don’t know I don’t know -- I don’t know why—"

This boy, he’s damned

well aware he’ll never get it quite like
this, ever again, after all it’s the end of
the world, those slanted skylights that frame
the bowling alley are all stained purple and
rust-red from the blood mist contagion,

not to mention those creatures out of doors who
look like Jan-Michael Vincent in the movie Buffalo 66,
goner guys with tarnished steely eyes like pin balls and
wheezing breath, they’re dying to tell the whole world
about their still-fervent needs and wants, if their forebrain
fonts weren’t dried up like L.A. river in December,
with synapses that yet somehow retain squatters’ rights
in the cranium—stubborn

as a diapered John Fante in front of AMX
Mar Vista Bowl on Venice Boulevard, John

Fante the Scrivener, absolute idol of Henry Chinaski, utterly
blind and limb-less from the diabetes, dictating another Bandini
novel that grows in his mind while some flesh-eating bacteria
climbs the bridge of his nose—John Fante with bowling shoes
strapped to his weeping stumps, tin beggar’s cup nudged
and humped by a darkly-stained crotch that’s spreading…

"Listen," the girl breathes, hard, at
her boy’s back, snaking her silken hands
beneath his shirt, sliding them up to cup
his pectorals, "you’ve never even told me
your hat size..."

The boy grins
again, and goes: "Hey, I realize that, baby but
CHECK THIS OUT!"... He breaks free
of her embrace, he aims his Frisbee
at a fresh set of pins on Lane Ten, then whips
that disc hard as he can, it whistles on a low line, striking
the head pin dead on the stripe, as if to decapitate a
honking-ripe Mallard duck. This pin spins, it totters, and
wobbles a bit, then after nearly half a minute
topples to the hardwood!—monkey-wrenching
the mechanical pin sweeper device in mid-rake; it lurches
there, stuttering, agape and then not—in the mouth
of the alley at the end of the world… Outside

the wind begins to howl,
while a lone jukebox
breaks it down-- one
more time how it’s "not

enough baby it’s just not
"…Our boy kisses
his girl’s ear lobe, whispers
her name… My darling I…

--and the scars hiss
and crackle

in the vinyl, as flame.

October 7, 2008

As we go up we go down

Trace Miller, Detail no.4, 1990

* Carrie Brownstein, In Name Only:

"We all have bands that we've secretly never heard. Major artists, cult heroes, Grammy winners, key figures. We know enough to be able to say their names, maybe even to recall their hometowns, to remember a fact from an article or the image of an album cover. Yet we don't really know these bands, perhaps not like we should. For music snobs, as some of us are, it's hard to admit that these bands aren't part of our aural landscapes, our vocabulary -- at least not beyond a fleeting recognition.

"One band that comes to mind for me is Galaxie 500. I know the names of each band member. I have seen later incarnations and projects. Yet I don't think I could name a song title or recognize a single tune. I imagine there are other bands, those we feel we should know but really don't. This, I might add, is different from those bands we feel we should like. Instead, these are artists we honestly have never heard beyond a track or two; at best, we only know the hit songs. Artists that tend to end up in this category include Frank Zappa, Captain Beefheart, My Bloody Valentine, Minutemen, Soft Machine and even Bob Dylan sometimes.

"In fact, this phenomenon is particularly prevalent the more famous or popular the artist is -- to feel like you know the music because you know what eked into the Top 40 or onto a film soundtrack. Then, all of a sudden, someone puts on Thin Lizzy or Bruce Springsteen at a party, and unless it's "Jail Break" or "Dancing in the Dark," you're out of luck.

"There's nothing wrong with these gaps in our musical knowledge, nothing to be ashamed about. Yet I've sensed real shame from people -- red-in-the-face embarrassment. 'Who is this?' they'll ask, expecting the answer to be some new and up-and-coming band, when the answer is simply 'Led Zeppelin' or 'The Who.' And it's true, it's worse when the answer is someone obvious. Personally, I feel braver admitting to gaps in my contemporary music knowledge than I would to huge blank pages from the year 1972. Why is that? I suppose a few years out, the history books and the critics have aided in cementing a list of crucial suspects, which, despite their own faults, certainly makes the task of learning about music -- or knowing what we should learn about -- less daunting.

"I recently saw an interview with author Rick Moody in which he's asked about evasion and confabulation. 'I'm the kind of guy who lies about having read Henry James' The Golden Bowl,' Moody says. So I will turn the question to you with regard to music: What kind of liar are you? Or, if you are a truth-teller, what will you admit to not really knowing?

* In the five years from 2003 to 2007, these Wall Street executives collectively took home more than $1 billion in pay. This article breaks down the pay of a few of these executives.

* The Caribbean will be performing at the Velvet Lounge (915 U Street NW) on Thursday night, October 9 at 10pm. with Pale Young Gentlemen, Ash Lovely, & (the fabulous) Don Zientara. $8

* "Every great work of art is offensive to someone, for a work of art is a protest against things as they are and a proclamation of things as they ought to be." -- Gerald W. Johnson

October 6, 2008

There is no deadline
There is no schedule
There is no plan we can fall back on

Stephen Kaltenbach, Wisdom, 1970

* Top ten conservative idiots. excerpt:

"1. Sarah Palin

"Well hi! So nice to be here! Gosh darn it, what a lovely podium! Hey, can I call you Joe? And can I call you Gwen? So nice to meetcha both. And all of you watchin' at home. There was some good college basketball today, I'm gonna show you highlights plus tell you all about that next so stay right there.

"Sorry, where was I? Oh yes. Tonight I'll be repeatin' the stuff they told me to say about John McCain's plan for the next four years and explainin' why my executive experience makes me just perfect to be the second most powerful person in the world. America, tonight I'm not gonna pass out or vomit on my shoes, which is the first and most important criteria for this very important job. Did I mention I come from Alaska? (wink)

"Okay, here goes! Let's talk economy. You know, I think a good barometer here, as we try to figure out has this been a good time or a bad time in America's economy, is go to a kid's soccer game on Saturday, and turn to any parent there on the sideline and ask them, 'How are you feelin' about the economy?'

"If they say 'Darn it, I can't pay for gosh darn gas to fill up my darn gas tank,' then you know that you're talkin' to a real Joe Sixpack or hockey mom, even if you're at a soccer game. So what we need is less taxes and more changes and we kinda need more mavericks in government, a team of mavericks like John McCain and myself, so we can have less taxes and more changes and better economy. (wink)

"Now I understand that the American people wanna hear specifics. But hold on there one darn second. I may not answer the questions that either the moderator or you wanna hear, Joe, but I'm gonna talk straight to the American people and let them know my track record also, doggone it. So let's talk about education. America needs to be puttin' a lot more focus on that and our schools have got to be really ramped up in terms of the funding that they are deservin'. Here's a shout-out to all the third graders! Don't worry about the teachers, their reward will be in heaven. Unless they're gay teachers, in which case they'll be burnin' in the flamin' pits of hell. (wink)

"But I also wanna clarify, if there's any kinda suggestion at all from my answer that I would be anythin' but tolerant of adults in America choosin' their partners, choosin' relationships that they deem best for themselves, ya know, choosin' ta be the gay, I am tolerant and I have a very diverse family and group of friends and even within that group you would see some who may not agree with me on this issue, some very dear friends who don't agree with me on this issue. In fact, some of my best friends are going to hell!

"Let's talk energy. Tillerson at Exxon and Mulva at ConocoPhillips, bless their hearts, they're doin' what they need to do, as corporate CEOs, but they're not my biggest fans, because what I had to do up there in Alaska was to break up a monopoly up there and say, ya know, the people are gonna come first and we're gonna make sure that we have value given to the people of Alaska with those resources. So let's open up Alaska to more oil drillin' and drill baby drill! That'll teach those gosh darn big oil CEOs a thing or two.

"You might be worried that all that drillin' might be bad for the environment. Now, I'm not one to attribute every activity of man to the changes in the climate. There is somethin' to be said also for man's activities, but also for the cyclical temperature changes on our planet. (wink) But there are real changes goin' on in our climate. And I don't wanna argue about the causes. What I wanna argue about is, how are we going to get there to positively affect the impacts? I guess what I'm sayin' is, let's not worry about what's causin' all these problems with the climate, let's just fix the gosh darn thing.

"So how long have I been at this, like five weeks? Let me tell ya I've spent much of those five weeks wonderin' if the vice president has enough power, to be honest. I think the answer is heck no! I mean, Dick Cheney is cool and all, but the foundin' fathers were very wise there in allowin' through the Constitution much flexibility there in the office of the vice president. And perhaps Dick Cheney's problem was that he just wasn't flexible enough. For example, I plan to have a seat for my husband Todd, and perhaps a parkin' space for his snow machine, right there in the Oval Office. Er, I mean the vice president's office! (wink) Because family is so important.

"Um, okay... let's see here... Iraq. Say it ain't so, Joe, your plan is a white flag of surrender in Iraq. Zing! And as for who coined that central war on terror being in Iraq, it was the Gen. Petraeus and al Qaeda, both leaders there and it's probably the only thing that they're ever gonna agree on, but that it was a central war on terror is in Iraq. You don't have to believe me or John McCain on that. I would believe Petraeus and the leader of al Qaeda. Whoever that is. And I think there's a fundamental difference between Joe and myself here, which is that he thinks the policies of the Bush administration have been an abject failure, and I do not.

"So to sum up, I like being able to answer these tough questions without the filter, even, of the mainstream media kinda tellin' viewers what they've just heard. We're tired of politics as usual. And that's why, with all due respect, I do respect your years in the U.S. Senate, Joe, but gosh darn it I think Americans are cravin' somethin' new and different and that new energy and that new commitment that's going to come with reform. And if there's one thing that says new and different and new energy and new commitment and reform, it's 'President John McCain.' You betcha!

"Good night! (wink)"

* Bad News Hughes is back with a new blog: domesticated shithead, check it out.

* "I believe that if it were left to artists to choose their own labels, most would choose none." - Ben Shahn

October 3, 2008

We know your house so very well
And we will wake you once we've walked up
All your stairs

Melanie Pullen, Phones, 2005

Self-Portrait At 28
-- by David Berman

I know it's a bad title
but I'm giving it to myself as a gift
on a day nearly canceled by sunlight
when the entire hill is approaching
the ideal of Virginia
brochured with goldenrod and loblolly
and I think "at least I have not woken up
with a bloody knife in my hand"
by then having absently wandered
one hundred yards from the house
while still seated in this chair
with my eyes closed.

It is a certain hill
the one I imagine when I hear the word "hill"
and if the apocalypse turns out
to be a world-wide nervous breakdown
if our five billion minds collapse at once
well I'd call that a surprise ending
and this hill would still be beautiful
a place I wouldn't mind dying
alone or with you.

I am trying to get at something
and I want to talk very plainly to you
so that we are both comforted by the honesty.
You see there is a window by my desk
I stare out when I am stuck
though the outdoors has rarely inspired me to write
and I don't know why I keep staring at it.

My childhood hasn't made good material either
mostly being a mulch of white minutes
with a few stand out moments,
popping tar bubbles on the driveway in the summer
a certain amount of pride at school
everytime they called it "our sun"
and playing football when the only play
was "go out long" are what stand out now.

If squeezed for more information
I can remember old clock radios
with flipping metal numbers
and an entree called Surf and Turf.

As a way of getting in touch with my origins
every night I set the alarm clock
for the time I was born so that waking up
becomes a historical reenactment and the first thing I do
is take a reading of the day and try to flow with it like
when you're riding a mechanical bull and you strain to learn
the pattern quickly so you don't inadverantly resist it.


I can't remember being born
and no one else can remember it either
even the doctor who I met years later
at a cocktail party.
It's one of the little disappointments
that makes you think about getting away
going to Holly Springs or Coral Gables
and taking a room on the square
with a landlady whose hands are scored
by disinfectant, telling the people you meet
that you are from Alaska, and listen
to what they have to say about Alaska
until you have learned much more about Alaska
than you ever will about Holly Springs or Coral Gables.

Sometimes I am buying a newspaper
in a strange city and think
"I am about to learn what it's like to live here."
Oftentimes there is a news item
about the complaints of homeowners
who live beside the airport
and I realize that I read an article
on this subject nearly once a year
and always receive the same image.

I am in bed late at night
in my house near the airport
listening to the jets fly overhead
a strange wife sleeping beside me.
In my mind, the bedroom is an amalgamation
of various cold medicine commercial sets
(there is always a box of tissue on the nightstand).

I know these recurring news articles are clues,
flaws in the design though I haven't figured out
how to string them together yet,
but I've begun to notice that the same people
are dying over and over again,
for instance Minnie Pearl
who died this year
for the fourth time in four years.


Today is the first day of Lent
and once again I'm not really sure what it is.
How many more years will I let pass
before I take the trouble to ask someone?

It reminds of this morning
when you were getting ready for work.
I was sitting by the space heater
numbly watching you dress
and when you asked why I never wear a robe
I had so many good reasons
I didn't know where to begin.

If you were cool in high school
you didn't ask too many questions.
You could tell who'd been to last night's
big metal concert by the new t-shirts in the hallway.
You didn't have to ask
and that's what cool was:
the ability to deduct
to know without asking.
And the pressure to simulate coolness
means not asking when you don't know,
which is why kids grow ever more stupid.

A yearbook's endpages, filled with promises
to stay in touch, stand as proof of the uselessness
of a teenager's promise. Not like I'm dying
for a letter from the class stoner
ten years on but...

Do you remember the way the girls
would call out "love you!"
conveniently leaving out the "I"
as if they didn't want to commit
to their own declarations.

I agree that the "I" is a pretty heavy concept
and hope you won't get uncomfortable
if I should go into some deeper stuff here.


There are things I've given up on
like recording funny answering machine messages.
It's part of growing older
and the human race as a group
has matured along the same lines.
It seems our comedy dates the quickest.
If you laugh out loud at Shakespeare's jokes
I hope you won't be insulted
if I say you're trying too hard.
Even sketches from the original Saturday Night Live
seem slow-witted and obvious now.

It's just that our advances are irrepressible.
Nowadays little kids can't even set up lemonade stands.
It makes people too self-conscious about the past,
though try explaining that to a kid.

I'm not saying it should be this way.

All this new technology
will eventually give us new feelings
that will never completely displace the old ones
leaving everyone feeling quite nervous
and split in two.

We will travel to Mars
even as folks on Earth
are still ripping open potato chip
bags with their teeth.

Why? I don't have the time or intelligence
to make all the connections
like my friend Gordon
(this is a true story)
who grew up in Braintree Massachusetts
and had never pictured a brain snagged in a tree
until I brought it up.
He'd never broken the name down to its parts.
By then it was too late.
He had moved to Coral Gables.


The hill out my window is still looking beautiful
suffused in a kind of gold national park light
and it seems to say,
I'm sorry the world could not possibly
use another poem about Orpheus
but I'm available if you're not working
on a self-portrait or anything.

I'm watching my dog have nightmares,
twitching and whining on the office floor
and I try to imagine what beast
has cornered him in the meadow
where his dreams are set.

I'm just letting the day be what it is:
a place for a large number of things
to gather and interact --
not even a place but an occasion
a reality for real things.

Friends warned me not to get too psychedelic
or religious with this piece:
"They won't accept it if it's too psychedelic
or religious," but these are valid topics
and I'm the one with the dog twitching on the floor
possibly dreaming of me
that part of me that would beat a dog
for no good reason
no reason that a dog could see.

I am trying to get at something so simple
that I have to talk plainly
so the words don't disfigure it
and if it turns out that what I say is untrue
then at least let it be harmless
like a leaky boat in the reeds
that is bothering no one.


I can't trust the accuracy of my own memories,
many of them having blended with sentimental
telephone and margarine commercials
plainly ruined by Madison Avenue
though no one seems to call the advertising world
"Madison Avenue" anymore. Have they moved?
Let's get an update on this.

But first I have some business to take care of.

I walked out to the hill behind our house
which looks positively Alaskan today
and it would be easier to explain this
if I had a picture to show you
but I was with our young dog
and he was running through the tall grass
like running through the tall grass
is all of life together
until a bird calls or he finds a beer can
and that thing fills all the space in his head.

You see,
his mind can only hold one thought at a time
and when he finally hears me call his name
he looks up and cocks his head
and for a single moment
my voice is everything:

Self-portrait at 28.

October 2, 2008

the shaking keeps me steady
the evening makes me whole

Jozsef Bullas

* Can the bailout succeed? excerpt:

"While the U.S. Senate predictably capitulated to the demands of Wall Street last night, for the first time in recent memory the House listened to the American people and blocked Paulson’s bailout of his rich buddies by US taxpayers. The same House that refuses the public’s demand that the Bush regime be held accountable and its gratuitous wars halted refused to hand over $700 billion to the financial institutions whose irresponsibility has brought the US to its worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

"We must be thankful for this sign that American democracy is not completely dead and supplanted by executive branch authority. However, whatever bailout package that emerges will fail unless it takes into account the following.

"Any package that maintains the mark-to-market rule and permits the resumption of short-selling will undermine itself. In panic conditions without the existence of a market, the mark-to-market rule results in asset prices being driven below their values, thus eroding balance sheets and producing insolvencies. Short-selling permits short-sellers to profit by destroying the share prices of institutions suffering balance sheet problems, thus eliminating their ability to borrow and driving them into failure.

"A bailout, however large, that maintains the mark-to-market rule and permits short-selling will pour money into a black hole.

"A bailout that is treated as a mere addition to the US government’s already massive indebtedness will disconcert foreign creditors. There is a limit to the amount of debt for which the US Treasury can assume responsibility without undermining its own credit rating. The bailout, especially if the $700 billion proves insufficient and more is needed, could impair the Treasury’s credit standing."
"Over the last 20 years the US has made a collection of serious mistakes that may yet prove fatal. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, the US government launched a policy of world hegemony for which it lacked the means. The US government permitted much of its manufacturing base to be located offshore to the point of even being dependent on imports for its military capability. The US government deregulated the financial sector and permitted the rise of new highly leveraged financial instruments whose failures currently threaten the US with economic collapse.

"University of Maryland economist Herman E. Daly points out that the current crisis is really one of the 'overgrowth of financial assets relative to growth of real wealth.' Daly believes that 'financial assets have grown by a large multiple of the real economy' and that 'paper exchanging for paper is now 20 times greater than exchanges of paper for real commodities.' Exploding debt liens have simply outgrown the wealth.

"The problem, in other words, cannot be bailed out. Historically, debt that cannot be redeemed has been repealed by inflation. The same inflation that wipes out debt will wipe out savings.

"A failed bailout is the worst possible outcome. The chance of failure rises if the US government tries to turn bad private debt into good public debt without regard to the expansion of the public debt.

"In this event, foreign creditors might not provide the funds needed for the bailout or would provide them only at higher interest rates, which would themselves undermine the bailout’s success."

* The Hart Crane controversy: a critic takes on his critics.

* Watch a giant pumpkin get dropped on a car.

* "The more horrifing the world becomes, the more art becomes abstract." -- Paul Klee

October 1, 2008

the doubters all were stunned

Ed Kamuda, Quiet Autumn Sun, 2006

Not Exactly Woody Guthrie
-- by Mark Halliday

As I lugged my luggage past the airport bar
I angled my neck to peer between drinkers
to see whether the field goal was good
in whatever game it was
because those people cared apparently
and I wanted for a second not to be too different.

Okay but also wanted to reap the benefit for a few seconds
of an image of successful performance in a ritualized activity
where skill earns unerasable points
and the swarming helmeted deniers can't quite reach you.

-- by Billy Collins

Once, two spoons in bed,
now tined forks

across a granite table
and the knives they have hired.

The Apples in Chandler's Valley
-- by Ron Padgett

The apples are red again in Chandler's Valley
—Kenneth Patchen

I figured that Chandler's Valley was a real place
but I didn't need to know where,
it was just some place with apple trees,
in America, of course,
but when it went on
"redder for what happened there"
a chill went up my spine
well maybe not a chill
but a heartbeat pause:
who dunnit?
because blood must be involved
to make those apples redder.
Then ducks and a rock
that didn't get redder. . .
You don't know what I'm talking about
unless you know this poem by Kenneth Patchen.
When I looked at it again not too far back
it didn't have the power
it had when I first read it
at seventeen
or heard him read it, rather,
on a record, but it's enough
that once it did have power,
and I am redder for what happened there.